Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell pumps and preens himself in Friday's Press with this comment: "What mayor wouldn't fight to protect his city, even if he has to wage a battle against the White House?"
The threat General George poses the White House is about as large as a flea on one of its SAM battery radar screens. Of course, he knows that, hence the amateurish moral posturing of his question. Even so, let's answer that question seriously. What mayor wouldn't fight for his city? The answer: George K. Heartwell.
While General George lobs empty threats against the White House, he refuses to take on his own City Attorney's Office that has blocked all discussion of resolving the Toxic Towers dumping scandal (for background check here and here). The City taking the side of the angels in this battle could mean the recovery of millions of dollars in fines and penalties from the polluters for the taxpayers of Grand Rapids. Instead, the City's current alliance with the polluters puts it in the position to be assessed these same fines and penalties.
To give you some idea of the magnitude of the potential penalties, under state law alone, the polluters face a fine for just one truckload of the poison (that they dug up at The Boardwalk project site and then dumped into the tanks of the old Monroe Avenue Water Filtration Plant) that would cover the City's entire budget deficit for a year! Eight hundred of these illicit transports of hazardous waste are recorded on surveillance videotape that has been submitted as evidence to the Kent County Circuit Court, the FBI, and the MDEQ. You do the math, dear readers.
Yet, General General flays away at the White House instead taking on a battle that he can actually win for us. He could take up the cause of the residents exposed by the polluters to The Boardwalk's poison and the taxpayers who have an opportunity to make the polluters pay. But he won't. The City Attorney's Office has ordered him to stand down in this battle, and so General George has taken leave from the fight.
E-mail the mayor today and ask him why he is letting the City Attorney's Office side with the polluters. Better yet, tell General George to do his job and order the City Attorney's Office to represent us, the residents and taxpayers of Grand Rapids, instead of burying skeletons for the last administration. The lawyers in that office -- Daniel Ophoff (and more here and here), Janice Bailey, and Catherine Mish -- work for you! Not for ex-Mayor Logie and his clients. Remind General George of that. If he won't listen, tell your commissioners to whip the City Attorney's Office into shape.